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Georgian Territory

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South Ossetia and Abkhazia Russia’s involvement in conflict settlement on the territory of Georgia had always been the most controversial, even before the events of August 2008. After breaking out in December 1990, the conflict in South Ossetia was ended in June 1992 by the signing of a ceasefire agreement in Dagomys. According to the agreement, Russia was to act as a guarantor of peace and security. In August 1992, there was a further escalation in another conflict on Georgian territory – in Abkhazia. According to experts, in the years prior to this (1991-1992) and during the first month of the war, Russia played a double role, providing military aid both to Georgia and Abkhazia. There was no consensus among the Russian policy-making elites with regard to the conflict. Only after September 1992 did Russia begin to support Abkhazia more actively (Antonenko, 2005). Shevarnadze had no other choice but to sign another ceasefire agreement with Russia, the so-called Moscow Agreement of 1994 on Abkhazia. The Georgian leadership acted under the threat of a further escalation of the conflict and a possible large-scale confrontation with their much stronger neighbour. This explains why the Georgian President had to agree to negotiation formats and mechanisms of conflict settlement with Russia in the leading role, although Georgia would have preferred greater involvement of other international actors in conflict resolution efforts.

Although the peacekeeping forces stationed in Abkhazia had a mandate from the CIS, they were exclusively Russian troops. For political negotiations, two formats were established: the Geneva process (with the participation of Georgia and Abkhazia and the UN Secretary-General’s Group of Friends of Georgia, involv...

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...ssia’s moves to contribute to conflict resolution have been quite reluctant, and have not broken the negotiation deadlock in any of the four cases. Russia constantly felt both the pressure of Georgia and Moldova, which have questioned the legitimacy of Russian peacekeeping forces, and that caused by the interest of other international actors in launching civil and civil-military missions of their own. In sum, it has invested much (both rhetorically and in practice) in defending its right to remain in the zones of conflict. However, as Ivan Sukhov has rightly noted, the presence of a Russian contingent in Georgia should not have been a goal in itself. Unlike the situation in the 1990s, a Russian peacekeeping mission would have made sense only if it was combined with active Russian efforts towards conflict settlement, together with the US and the EU (Sukhov, 2006).
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